Letters from our Readers - Part 2
( READ PART 1)
Living in perspective
Robert Thiel's letter [" Happy Media," The Journal, May 31, page 2] states that in the last five years the Living Church of God's telecast has generated 346,837 requests from 202,040 viewers. Dr. Thiel claims that response is better than what Herbert and Garner Ted Armstrong received. That is not the plain truth!
As a result of the momentum created by his lifetime of doing God's work, in the year of Herbert Armstrong's death (1986), the largest number ever of WATS [wide-area telephone service] calls in one year (until then) were received, numbering almost two million.
Living's 97,572 direct responses from television in 2003 amounted to less than 5 percent of that amount.
In 1986 The World Tomorrow on television attracted 1,661,226 calls. In other words, it was 17 times more effective than Living's telecast in 2003.
Since less than a quarter million people have responded to the LCG's broadcast in five years, its magazine's circulation is unlikely to be bigger. That would make it considerably smaller than United's Good News or Philadelphia's The Philadelphia Trumpet.
In comparison, The Plain Truth, published by the WCG under Mr. Armstrong, reached a circulation of one million in July 1967 and rose to more than eight million at the end of Mr. Armstrong's life. That was a world-class circulation bigger than Time magazine, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report and The Economist. Mr. Armstrong was also the largest purchaser of radio time in the world for a good while.
Mr. Thiel boasts that 202,040 "individuals have responded . . . Not bad for a group that has only about 7,000 in attendance." Living had 202,040 people make 346,837 requests.
That means on an average they contacted Living less than twice, or that more than 28 percent never responded a second time.
Even if everyone responding asked for a subscription, at Living's average rate over the last five years Tomorrow's World magazine would reach a circulation of eight million in about 200 years' time.
In the year of Mr. Armstrong's death, the WCG mailed out 96 million publications in the United States alone. (See Vol. 2 of Mr. Armstrong's autobiography, pages 656-765.) Compare that with the average over the last five years of 69,367 requests per year, which Living received on a global basis.
Let's not forget that Roderick Meredith actually went independent eleven and one-half years ago, and he--and his ministry and membership--started with the advantage of being trained by Mr. Armstrong over many years. Mr. Armstrong started from scratch.
That Mr. Meredith has been able to marshall only less than 6 percent of the about 130,000 people in the church who supported Herbert W. Armstrong must be some indication of the difference in caliber between an evangelist and an apostle.
Without denying the zeal and accomplishments of Mr. Meredith, I would point out that the church under Mr. Armstrong was hugely more effective, and that's without mentioning the variety of other avenues through which he conveyed his message.
But, then, he was God's apostle and end-time Elijah, sent to make ready a people for Christ's return. Those whose vision is blurred to those facts are bound to diminish his achievements--and inflate the importance of the part of the Body of Christ (or other institution) they are in.
Geoffrey R. Neilson
Fish Hoek, South Africa
In dealing with people in the Christian communities, they all seem to have serious concerns that I may not have the Holy Spirit. Many at least imply that if I had the Holy Spirit I would understand a lot of things I do not understand now. In fact, the problem is so severe that I am somewhat paranoid that I might offend other people.
Since most of The Journal's contributors believe they are filled with the Holy Spirit, I hope some of them might help enlighten me.
Many Journal contributors seem less concerned about offending other people than I. Is this because I may not be filled with the Holy Spirit? All of this gets a bit confusing to me, and it may be confusing to you also, so please bear with me.
Dave Havir writes an article saying that we shouldn't label people or call them names. I could see where this might help us get along with each other as Christians should. The next month Dave writes an article using the term "control freaks." Dave seems to name some of the people he is referring to as control freaks. If I were filled with the Holy Spirit would I understand that he is not name-calling or labeling?
Brian Knowles and others endlessly recommend essential reading lists and Web sites that we must read or visit for proper Christian growth. If I had the Holy Spirit would I understand that this is not talking down to everyone?
John Sash writes about harlots. If I had the Holy Spirit would I comprehend the significance of harlots in the salvation scenario? Susan [Herrmann] and Dianne [McDonnell] comment on John's supposed bashing of women. They beat him up pretty good verbally. If I had the Holy Spirit would I have caught the caring and nurturing in all of this?
In reading the ongoing saga about "the nature of God" bickering, if I had the Holy Spirit would I consider this age-old controversy as something other than a diversion from reality and a waste of time, except for the money that changes hands?
I could go on and on, but you see my problem, so, if any of you can help me, here are my address and phone number: 1092 Highway 26 E., Delight, Ark. 71940, U.S.A.; (870) 285-3772. I do not have an E-mail address because I believe we should offend each other and bicker at a slower speed.
If you don't have my point yet, it is this: Most of us need to show others the respect that we think we deserve.
At Luke Przeslawski's suggestion [see Mr. Przeslawski's letter in The Journal, May 31] I decided to read Dave Havir's column in the April edition on the topic of name-calling ["Name-Calling Kills Many a Good Discussion"]. I believe Mr. Przeslawski wanted me to read the article because he thought I might learn a valuable lesson from it.
I am sorry to disappoint Mr. Przeslawski, but the article had too many logical flaws in it to be helpful to me.
For example, the fictional story that Mr. Havir narrated was carefully contrived to illustrate the point he wanted to make. This was demonstrated by the examples given, where the son didn't deserve the names that were attached to him.
But, in the real world of carnal human nature, no one is as perfect as the son is. So to use a fictional illustration to make a point that is absent from man's experience is unhelpful, to put it respectfully.
West Bromwich, England
Right hand of fellowship
I am amazed how brethren can be so judgmental without realizing their own errors. Tom Mahon makes some foolish statements about Anthony Buzzard that will come back to bite him [see letters from Mr. Mahon in the Jan. 31 and April 30 issues]. Until you can come to see that you yourself have doctrine in error, you are not following the Holy Spirit into all truth.
The problem with all of us Christians is that none of us follows the Holy Spirit into all truth. We don't really want the truth. We want the Bible to agree with our opinions.
Most of us Christians are not capable of studying many subjects because of our biases. These are facts that I have been able to discern in myself and my friends, and you, Mr. Mahon, have confirmed it by your words that you have the same problem.
I know on a personal level both David Antion (he baptized me decades ago) and Anthony Buzzard. I have respect for both of their opinions. I daresay that Anthony exudes more of the fruit of the Spirit and understanding than many brethren. At least he does not invent definitions for words or give the wrong meaning for words the way we were given in the past by our leadership.
I'm not implying that he's mistake-proof. Examine yourself whether you are believing the truth. I've made similar foolish statements like you made so I know how wrong one can be. I come to Anthony Buzzard's defense but do also extend the right hand of fellowship to you.
Bravo to Jaime Welch, who wrote " It Wasn't Supposed to Be Like This," The Journal, May 31. Jaime couldn't have said it more perfectly. She is probably experiencing some ostracism and/or shunning from saying it like it is.
Gavin Rumney's article in the same issue, " After a Month of Pain, United Can Hope," added to Jaime's letter, as did Dave Havir's article "Name-Calling Kills Many a Good Discussion" in the April issue.
The ministers-leaders for years have been telling us they are servants, but their actions portray them more like hypocrites. I don't know when many of them took on the "infallibility" attitude; i.e., like the pope. Not all of them are that way; there are some fair and kind leaders who are truly servants.
My husband and I are 71 and 69 years old (respectively) and have been in the church for 30 and 34 years. We have observed the behavior mentioned above many times and have experienced it ourselves a few times.
Not only is there is a strong passion of many ministers to control; they also don't want any input, even regarding secular things. Years ago they seem to have developed a self-exalted opinion of themselves and/or their rank.
Since the apostasy we have also experienced this behavior in one of the large spin-offs and in two small independent groups.
Jaime, for your information we ask ourselves the same question: Where do we go from here, knowing that it's not supposed to be like this?
Two thumbs up
The May issue of The Journal was tops, perhaps the best I've ever seen. It is truly more of an unbiased reporter of news than I can recall. The "open letter" by Gavin Rumney to the UCG honchos rang clear as the Liberty Bell, and I hope my amigos on the Comintern, I mean council of elders, take to heart his rationale.
The adjacent column by Jaime Welch is a true-to-life plea to echo Gavin's perspective.
And, hello, what's this? A play-by-play speculation by the aging Dave Havir as to how the council voted for its president over the years. Wow! Was that ever cool!
The last issue was a mixture of insightful columns, humor and heartwarming information that certainly deserves my personal two thumbs up. Don't let anyone try to convince you or make you feel guilty that you are doing anything other than a whole hades of a lot of good for the COG community.
Keith D. Speaks
Overall, I enjoy reading The Journal. However, I am very disturbed at what was allowed in the May 31 edition, the column by Dave Havir titled " Columnist Predicts Jim Franks Will Be Next President of UCG."
Dave ends the article with "As a political prognosticator, I am not afraid to be wrong. But, if I am right, I want you to remember that you heard it here first." (Is that the real motive behind the article?)
The Journal does a service in giving information on current and past events in the Churches of God. However, it is appalling to see discussions of a very personal nature about individuals, analyzing them as to who may be the next UCG president, speculating who voted which way in certain situations and making judgments as to motives.
We don't have the ability to judge the heart, yet we see someone not on the council of elders, nor ever has been, making these judgments and predictions--and this is printed?
This speculation on who may be our next UCG president, and even who may be chosen as "overseer of the clergy"), may satisfy our itching ears, but how does this edify? (Philippians 4:8).
It doesn't and causes division. I believe the decision on who will be the next UCG president should rest, under God's guidance, with those who are entrusted with that profound responsibility and know the other individual candidates well, often working with them on a continuing regular basis. It is not for us to decide or question the logic if the decision is different from the one we made upon reading some bits of information in The Journal.
Please be very careful of the content allowed in the articles in The Journal.
Costa Mesa, Calif.
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